Posted Dec 20th 2012 2:58PM
There are more varieties of the Ford Mustang than coffee concoctions at Starbucks, yet enthusiasts always seem eager to embrace one more. Vaughn Gittin Jr., the driving champion most famous for his sideways antics in Formula Drift, developed the Mustang RTR as a dealer-installed appearance package and performance upgrade to the popular Ford coupe.
I spent some quality time in the Race Red two-door pictured above, a 2013 Mustang RTR Spec 2. Bundled as a complete RTR package, the US$11,995 option (add it to the cost of the donor – in this case a CAD$41,674 Mustang GT Premium) adds a Ford Racing engine tune, Ford Racing adjustable shocks, 1.0 inch or 1.5 inch lowering springs, RTR four-way adjustable front and rear sway bars, RTR strut brace, RTR adjustable Panhard rod, RTR rear chassis brace and a RTR axle back exhaust system.
- The performance upgrades to the 5.0-litre V8 are limited to a Ford Racing Tune, K&N air filter and RTR exhaust. Combined, they add about 16 horsepower for an estimated output of 436 horses and 397 pound-feet of torque (with a 60 foot-pound boost on the low side of the tach!). The upgraded exhaust – complete with RTR-badged black tips – proved surprisingly enjoyable, adding a nice, deep note without droning on the highway. In stock form, the Mustang GT is plenty quick (4.5 seconds to 60 mph (96 km/h)) so the minor engine upgrades are best considered icing on the cake.
- High-performance Falken Azenis FK-453 rubber is wrapped around very attractive RTR 19- by 9.5-inch wheels (painted matte charcoal or silver with black lug nuts). The summer rubber sticks very well, but I found brake feel, and possibly stopping distances, suffered with the RTR cross-drilled and slotted rotors (keep in mind that the stock pads have less friction surface with this configuration). In my estimation, the factory Brembo brake upgrade is a much more effective performance upgrade.
- Many aftermarket setups fail in terms of suspension tuning, but not on this RTR. The four-way adjustable suspension allows the driver to dial-in their own preference. It is stiff, but still comfortable enough to tackle LA's broken pavement (we found the 2011 Mustang RTR considerably harsher).
- Inside the cabin, I found far too many RTR badges and logos – on the shift knob (a nice ball), the floor mats, speedometer, tachometer, 12v plug and on a numbered serial plate signed by Vaughn Gittin Jr. stuck on the passenger-side of the dash. Add those to another half-dozen RTR badges on the outside, and it was RTR overload.
- The exterior cosmetic package is aggressive and clean – very nicely done. All-inclusive, it includes a front chin and rear spoiler, rear diffuser, rocker splitters, license plate surround with ducts, fender badges, rear deck appliqué and vinyl hood/side stripes. Unfortunately, I found the front splitter annoyingly low. Thankfully, despite being easy to scrape (even when driven with care), the unpainted polymer was flexible enough to take a little bit of abuse without cracking.
- The rear windows on this particular vehicle, configured for the press fleet, were covered with an extremely dark film. Nearly opaque, it severely reduced outward visibility (so much for seeing any law enforcement in the rearview mirror) and made the cabin feel claustrophobic, even on a sunny day.